Thursday, December 4, 2008

Scooter Inflation

This ad from 1965 should make a lot of you nostalgic- not just for that classic bike, the original Honda 50, but also for that price- $215. I'm sure a lot of you are saying "I'll take two." But what does that $215 in 1965 dollars work out to in 2008 dollars?

Surprisingly, less that you think. That same amount of money, adjusted for inflation, works out to only $1400 today- or about $700 less than a Yamaha C3, or Honda Ruckus or Metropolitan. You'd have thought that 43 years of improvements in plant automation and manufacturing design would have made the cost lower today. Certainly labor costs should be relatively lower; today's scooters are made mostly not in Japan, but in countries like Taiwan with lower labor costs, and there is indeed a lot more automation.

You can't blame the same kind of federal regulations that have raised the cost of automobiles- mopeds don't have seat belts, air bags, catalytic converters and crash-absorbing bumpers. I think what's at the heart of the increased cost in light of all the factors that should have lowered the cost is the higher standard of living not only in Japan since 1965, but over the entire Pacific Rim. Given how our collective standard of living has improved in the last 43 years, it seems only fair.


Franz said...

This is an interesting topic for discussion, but a couple of things need to be clear right off the bat. Today's scooters are more sophisticated. The Yamaha C3 does in fact have a catalytic converter, as well as electronic fuel injection, and an ECU with quite a few sensors throughout the drive train. In addition, scooters for the American market (at least) have far more regulations to monitor, leading to increased compliance costs. Entering other markets increases costs, too, since the growing regulatory environment is found worldwide. Greater costs for dealers, including heavier marketing and service investments, can also be argued.

It's a different world out there from the 60's, and we can be grateful that we're not paying $775 (in 1960s cash) for a new 21" monster of a color TV.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. Why don't you give permalinks? I would to put this article on the reddit scooter subreddit, but I can't do it without a permalink.